Chaplain: remember 'the man that wasn’t there'
Photo by Schelly Stone/The American Legion

Chaplain: remember 'the man that wasn’t there'

American Legion National Chaplain Robert Vick of Florida recalled art-paper silhouettes of faces so commonly crafted years ago. At the time of their making, the subject depicted could always be identified. But as the years passed, and those silhouettes entered scrapbooks and trunks, their likenesses faded from memory, until no one could tell who they belonged to.

Vick’s remembrance began Sunday’s message at the Patriotic Memorial Service of the 100th American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis. Titled “The Man That Wasn’t There,” his remarks applied to the military men and women laid to rest in graves that are forgotten by most. Those who served in uniform and sacrificed for America’s freedom – living or dead – must always be remembered, he said.

“Never fail to recognize one of these men who are not here,” Vick told hundreds gathered for the service. “Decorate his grave. Never let him be a man who is not here.”

The service included wreath placements in honor of the fallen from American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan and National Adjutant Daniel Wheeler; Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith and SAL National Adjutant Anthony Wright; and American Legion Auxiliary National President Diane Duscheck and Auxiliary National Secretary Mary “Dubbie” Buckler.

The Minneapolis Boy Choir received a standing ovation after performances of “Amazing Grace,” “A Hymn of Peace” and “America the Beautiful.” The colors were posted and retired by the Newport Harbor, Calif., Post 291 color guard. Carlissa Frederich of Kentucky, the 2018 American Legion National Oratorical Contest champion, lit the candle of remembrance.

Vick’s message dealt with the spiritual dilemma of war fighting. “If you fight for freedom, to defend someone who cannot defend themselves, for freedom to worship without coercion … freedom to assemble without fear from tyranny … then your fight is just and often necessary,” he said. “Then God understands our resolve. God teaches us that we are our brother’s keeper.”

He referenced the New Testament to amplify his point that it is a human responsibility to protect and help others. “If we see a brother in need, and we only wish him well or fail to inquire if we can be of help to him, the Lord asks the question, ‘What good have you done him?’”

Action is required, Vick said. “We do not just perform lip service. We do more than lip service.”

And the U.S. flag, he said, “represents much more than a country, a people or an ideal. It represents the very heart of man and remembers the man who isn’t here … The American Legion is the embodiment of the very heart of man, in service to his fellow man. I don’t know of many organizations that devote their entire existence to the service of others, as does The American Legion. God bless the American Legion Family, and God bless everyone here today.”